More than 30 years after Stephen King first terrified readers with The Shining, he’s written a sequel, Doctor Sleep. The ‘hero’ of the novel attends AA meetings, which draws on King’s own experiences of alcohol misuse.
The King family have come a long way since the days when Stephen’s wife Tabitha threatened to leave him if he didn’t stop boozing and taking cocaine. Owen, his youngest, was 10 then and Naomi 17. It is better to be frank about these things, King believes, since people always find out about them anyway. But memories of the intervention are still painful.
“There’s a thing in AA, something they read in a lot of meetings, The Promises. Most of those promises have come true in my life: we’ll come to know a new freedom and new happiness, that’s true. But it also says in there: we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. And I have no wish to shut the door on the past. I have been pretty upfront about my past. But do I regret? I do. I do. I regret the necessity.”
Still, he feels pretty lucky, not least after a near-death experience in 1999. King was walking down a road near his house when he was hit by a truck and thrown 14ft in the air. There were no white lights, but it did get him thinking seriously about death. “Our body knows things, and our brain knows things that don’t have anything to do with conscious thought. And I think that it’s possible, when you die, that there is a final exit programme that goes into effect. And that’s what people are seeing when they see their relatives or a white light or whatever it is. In that sense, there may really be a heaven if you believe there’s a heaven, and a hell if you believe there is one. But there’s some kind of transitional moment. That idea that your whole life flashes before your eyes.” He smiles. “Of course, they say about co-dependents – people who grow up around alcoholics – that somebody else’s life does.”
To read the full article in The Guardian, please click here: Stephen King on alcoholism and returning to The Shining.